BEND, Ore. — Disc golf is sort of like regular golf, only instead of using a club to hit a tiny ball into the little hole a few hundred yards away, you are throwing a small frisbee into a metal basket a few hundred yards away. The games are scored the same way in that shooting below par is a good score.
And at times, it brings all the frustration that can be seen on the golf links.
“You try and throw it really hard and you end up shanking it,” said Josh Cockrum, explaining how, much like golf, the slightest inconsistency in the throwing motion can have grave consequences on the course. “But when you have good form and really smooth mechanics, it helps create farther throws.”
Since March, when the pandemic closed schools and canceled sports, Cockrum and younger brother Ben, both students at Bend’s Mountain View High Scool, go out to the course at Pine Nursery Park to see who can spin their disk into the metal, chain-linked basket in the fewest amount of tosses.
“I think right now I have the upper hand, I’m older so I’m a little stronger,” Josh said. “It is usually a good battle.”
Ben added: “It’s a fun thing to do when you don’t have sports or anything going on.”
Central Oregon has no shortage of disc golf courses: Between Pine Nursery and Rockridge Park in Bend, Hyzer Pines in Sisters and Juniper Hills in Madras, there are no fewer than 10 courses that are either nine or 18 holes per the Disc Golf Course Review website.
“I play two to three times a week probably,” said Will Brandt, who was enjoying a solo round at Pine Nursery. “When it’s nice out and you are in Bend, it is hard not to do something outside. I usually get out here in the mid afternoon when it’s not too hot.”
There are no green fees, like golf courses. Anyone with a disc can play at the local courses. Disc golf is a sport suited for all skill levels. There are different clubs like the Central Oregon Disc Golf Club, which competes in tournaments throughout the year. It is also a leisurely sport, resembling a walk in the park.
“I just enjoy just being outside, bringing my dog with me and getting out and playing a sport,” Brandt said. “It is a challenging sport because you are chasing, following, and finding your disc but as long as you are throwing it in an adequate manner, it is usually pretty easy to find it pretty easily. It is a sport you can come out and just leisurely play with your friends.”
Like golf caddies hauling their clubs throughout the course, disc golfers carry around as many as several dozen discs in their bags. There are four main types of discs a disc golfer will have in their arsenal.
The standard discs are a distance drive, a wider rimmed disc with a sharper nose that can travel the greatest distance; a fairway driver, less distance potential but it has a straighter flight; midranges, smaller rims make the disc helpful for narrow fairways and approach shots; and putters, designed for shot tosses into a basket.
There are four standard ways to throw a disc, with the most common being the backhand a standard frisbee throw with a sidearm or flicking motion and overhand, a tomahawk throwing motion.
A pairing between the disc and the throwing style will help lower the players’ scores on the course.
“I think it is beneficial to learn both forehand and backhand throws because you can shape the discs’ (flight pattern) different ways and there are different shapes that you need to make on these holes,” Josh said.